Tips for soaking your horse’s hooves


Soaking hooves is often part of the treatment for a variety of hoof ailments, namely abscesses. A nice soak in a custom concoction sounds like a great idea (on paper) but in reality, many horses despise standing in a feed tub. Of course, they do! Feed tubs are for FOOD, and your horse knows it!


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horse standing in water

Spilling in 3,2,1….


Guidelines for hoof soaking


  • Make sure your horse can deal with soaking before he has the abscess or he needs to marinate in ice for a case of laminitis. This process is part desensitization, part patience training, and part just do it.


  • If you have read any of my previous articles, you know that the time to start training a behavior or introduce something new is not when the Vet is standing there telling you he needs something and you can only sputter back “but he doesn’t like it when I try that”.


Ground rules for everyone’s safety while soaking hooves:


  • Practice before you need to do it! Just for grins, see what he thinks of getting his hoof soaked when he doesn’t need it.
  • Use cross ties! These minimize the fidgeting that your horse can do as he stews in his special soaking mixture.
  • Reward good behavior!
  • Don’t leave him in the cross ties to tend to other barn chores. This is a sure-fire way to have your tub or container spill everywhere.



horse leg in red soaking boot

Make sure the bottom of your soaking device is strong enough to take your horse’s weight and shoe.


Some tips for making the soaking time pass easily:


  • Timing is everything! Soak when his belly is full, not when hay is getting handed out.
  • Combine cross tie tasks – soak first, then go about grooming. You can distract your horse with lots of scratching in his favorite places.
  • Add a hay net if you need to. His belly may be full, but hay nets make excellent pacifiers for the dancing cross tie horse.
  • Make sure your horse is comfortable. If he’s clipped and naked and standing in an outside cross tie in the winter wind, he’s likely to fidget and be cranky.



front view of soaking boot on a horse leg

Make life easy for you and your horse with a hoof boot designed for soaking.


The best containers to use for soaking hooves:


  • Some horses do just great in an old feed bin. I like the 6 1/2 gallon size, the sides are about 10 inches deep, and they are wide for even the biggest hoof. Once a feed tub becomes a soaking tub, it should stay a soaking tub.


  • Fancy soaking boots. These are an excellent idea, and your horse can lift his leg and the boot just follows! A greatly reduced change of major spilling.


  • These bad boys are thick, and tall, and can hold enough water to be effective. If you are soaking for an abscess, it’s likely his shoe has been removed and the bag is less likely to be torn.


horse standing in water

This 6.5 gallon tub is perfect for soaking hooves. If your horse will play along.



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03/10/2024 08:17 pm GMT
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Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Size 3, Black

This style is great to protect the hoof, but is not soft and squishy for laminitis cases.

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EasyCare Glove Hoof Boot

These boots are great for protecting barefoot horses.

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Silver Bells - Sox For Horses

For hoof protection when equine pastern dermatitis is a risk.

$17.99 $14.45 ($3.61 / Fl Oz)
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Handson Ergonomic Hoof Pick
$19.99 ($19.99 / Count)

This is the strongest hoof pick available!

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